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Finding the words

Finding the words

Sometimes even the experts have trouble finding the words.

Clarification: sometimes even the experts have trouble finding the right words.

Recently we asked ourselves, “What makes us special? What sets us apart?”

They are questions we ask our clients every day as we get to know the ins and outs of their businesses. Turning the table inwards sometimes can be a bit of a challenge.

At Albers, we pride ourselves on great storytelling, on helping our clients make a personal connection with consumers, on building our clients’ brands through relationships, and by growing our clients’ businesses by turning them into newsmakers and thought leaders. But those statements don’t necessarily translate to words that are easy to come by or vocalize – even as storytellers. We knew what we wanted to convey, but not exactly how to say it.

As our discussion continued, we threw around words we felt best fit…words like “meaningful,” “emotional,”
and “impactful.”

Wait…“impactful?” It’s a word that’s tossed around quite a bit in marketing and advertising, but is “impactful” even a word? Even our very own Jenna Gallagher, who has the most incredible vocabulary and passion for words I have ever encountered, was stumped.

So we turned to our trusty friend, Mr. Webster. Then consulted our other friend, Google.

What we found was troubling.

While the word “impactful” is used quite often in common language and appears in Merriam-Webster’s unabridged dictionary and online as an entry from Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English, a writer for the Baltimore Sun pointed out, “it is not listed in Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the American Heritage College Dictionary, the Encarta World English Dictionary, the New Oxford American Dictionary or the Oxford English Dictionary.”

And as more of a “slap-in-the-face” to marketers, another writer for the Urban Dictionary candidly stated, “impactful” is “A non-existent word coined by corporate advertising, marketing and business drones to make their work sound far more useful, exciting and beneficial to humanity than it really is. This term is most frequently used in ‘team building’ seminars and conferences in which said drones discuss the most effective ways to convince consumer zombies to purchase crap they clearly do not need or even want.”

Ouch.

So I guess the point here is this: choose your words carefully and thoughtfully. Take the time to make sure your words fit. Do your research. Ask your clients how they would describe you. And definitely ask the experts…including Google.

Not taking the time to do it right can be, well, “impactful.”